When you hear the word "blockchain," your mind most likely goes to the hot topic of cryptocurrency, not carbon neutrality. But in the case of Polestar, the latter applies.
Volvo's spinoff maker of premium all-electric performance cars is not only on a mission to become completely carbon-neutral by 2030, but it also wants to make sure its production processes are fully transparent for the world to see. To that end, the Swedish subsidiary is partnering with blockchain technology provider Circulor to track the amount of CO2 emissions created during each step of its car-building process, from mining to manufacturing.
A blockchain is essentially a digital record made up of "building blocks" of information gathered across a system. The technology was invented in 2008 to serve as a secure way to log public transactions for the cryptocurrency bitcoin. A blockchain serves as a permanent and unchangeable ledger of action steps and data through decentralization, meaning it is open-source and accessible to everyone all at once. This makes it nearly impossible to change the history or narrative of an ongoing system once it has been "recorded." Once a piece of information is on a blockchain, it is essentially tamper-proof.
Because a blockchain is a trusted source for information, Polestar plans to use this technology to make its supply chain transparent to everyone – customers, regulators, the press, and the public. The carmaker’s goal is to demonstrate its sustainability practices in producing its electric cars from raw materials to the final product and the resulting carbon footprint along the way. Blockchain is a highly effective way for a company to report honestly on its production methods and ensure accountability to itself and others.
Initially, Polestar and Circulor will focus on tracking raw materials known to carry environmental risks or those that are associated with human rights violations. These include nickel, manganese, and lithium, among others. The newly announced partnership is not the first time the two companies have worked together to utilize blockchain technology. Their first collaboration focused on tracing the cobalt used to make the batteries of the Polestar 2 electric vehicle.
"For Polestar, caring about ethics and the environment is a key concern," said Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath, in a statement. "This unprecedented level of tracking means Polestar is promoting sustainable and ethical practices in its supply chain and providing greater transparency to consumers."
Blockchains may allow Polestar and other automakers to present consumers with an accurate carbon footprint and sustainability data for their vehicles in the future.